He walked up and down again muttering.
“She has gone too far, Roger—too far.” He paused before me.
“But you haven’t answered my questions,” he said flatly.
“You’ve hardly given me time,” I said with a smile.
To be truthful, I did not propose to answer them. Aside from a curious shyness born of our long and innocent intimacy which made frankness now seem a violation of the precedent of years, I found that the desire was born in me, born anew with Jerry’s awakening consciousness, to stand by my guns, and await the results of his lessons from the world. He must solve the riddle of the Great Experiment alone.
“You haven’t answered my questions, Roger,” he insisted.
I was unjointing Jerry’s rod with scrupulous care.
“I’m not going to,” I said quietly.
“You—?” He examined me with a curious expression. “Who else should I go to if not to you?”
I paused a long moment, during which he scraped at the moss with the toe of his boot.
“My dear Jerry,” I said. “I am more than convinced since the period of your probation has passed that my mission at Horsham Manor is ended. I was brought here to bring you to manhood with the things that were requisite as well for the body as the soul. I thought I had acquitted myself with tolerable success in obeying the desires of your dead father. But once freed from my influence you took the bit in your teeth and ran the race in your own way. I gave you advice but you wouldn’t take it. If you had listened then, I could have helped you now. But you didn’t listen. And if I were to warn you, to answer your questions, you wouldn’t heed me now. Experience is the great teacher. Seek it. I’m through.”
He reddened and took a turn up and down.
“Do you mean that?”
“I do. I meddle with your personal affairs no longer. If I did I should begin at once—” I paused, for an attack on Marcia Van Wyck was trembling at the top of my tongue. “But there—you see we should only quarrel. I don’t like your friends. We couldn’t agree—”
“You like Una.”
“Yes, unqualifiedly. She is one in a million.”
“Well, we’re agreed on that at least,” he said smiling.
There was another silence in which Jerry puffed on his unlighted pipe.
“You know I’ve invited Una and her mother up here this week and what’s better still, they’re coming.”
This was excellent news. To me it meant that Una thought the boy worth saving from himself and now proposed to carry the war into the enemy’s country.
“I’m delighted,” I said briefly.
“So am I,” he returned thoughtfully. He scraped his pipe, filled it slowly and when it was lighted again, settled down comfortably.
“I think Una has wakened me, Roger. The force of her example is tremendous, her life, her way of thinking of things, her cheerfulness, hopefulness about everybody. I can’t make out why Marcia should attack her so unjustly. It wasn’t fair.”